Hall of Shame of low-quality adblockers

On the presumption that it is allowed to talk pretty negatively of specific adblockers in this forum (Feel free to correct me if it isn’t):

gorhill sometimes like to look through the code of questionable adblocker extensions for Chrome and post the results of it on Twitter, but a few months ago he managed to get fooled by a fake “AdBlock” extension’s mismarketing, and began to draw conspiracy theories where he thought that ABP had bought AdBlock as part of an evil co-operation with ad marketing firms.

So my personal idea for a way to prevent such confusion in the future, may or may not be to create a categorised list of adblockers that clearly haven’t had much work put into them, except for (in some cases, not all of them) to add tracking code to them.

(In the list below I’ve also added a small handful of extensions that aren’t explicitly about adblocking, as they used to be supported by some of my alternate-purpose lists but aren’t anymore.)

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Forked from uBlock Origin ca. 2016-17, and has seen no real work on it since

  • uBlock Plus Adblock
  • Ads Killer Adblocker Plus
  • Adblocker Genesis Plus
  • Adblocker HARDLINE V2
  • uBlock Pro
  • Adblock DEFENSE
  • ADZbuzz uBlock (although kudos for it respecting gorhill’s work on uBO)
  • Varanida
  • Adblocker Genius PRO
  • The 1 Adblocker

Forked from AdBlock ca. 2016-18, and has seen no real work on it since

  • Adblocker Ultimate (Although its base engine and iOS version were forked from AdGuard instead)
  • NoAds

Believed to be based on a fraudulent extension with the AdBlock name, published by the new owners of uBlock

Other reasons

Affected extension Reasoning for it being low-quality
uBlock Ceased to be actively maintained after its main coder jumped ship to uBlock Origin in 2015.
Slimjet Has not been updated to support ABP 3.1 syntaxes.
Personal Blocklist (Chrome version) Believed to have ceased functioning in late 2018.
Stylish Does not seem to support multi-site userstyles, and has been involved in several privacy scandals.
Adblocker Professional Forked from ABP ca. 2016.

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Rule of thumb: If you’re ever in doubt about whether an adblock extension is being maintained, see if it still includes Juvander’s Finnish List (which was removed from major adblockers in disgrace after it targeted labour union sites) or Norsk Adblockliste (A strange and pitiful excuse for a Norwegian list).

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Forked from AdGuard actually.

Also, their iOS app is a fork of AdGuard for iOS.

Its desktop-browser-version interface looks a lot like pre-2018-ish AdBlock to me, at least.

But I’ll add a note about its iOS version. Thanks.

Yeah, for some reason they copied the UI from Adblock, but it’s an old version of AdGuard under the hood.

Ah, okay. Thanks for the clarification. :slightly_smiling_face:

What’s about AdNauseum because I remember that I’ve tried once and never use it again.

  • The functionality same as uBlock Origin, but have their own whitelist
  • Claimed to silently click ads that was blocked (this is a reason that I concern)

Having now looked into and tested out AdNauseum, it seems to be somewhat continuously maintained, and it’s pretty upfront and honest about its use in click-frauding. So I’ve seen worse extensions/forks than this.

Maybe guilty is their generic filters:

You guys raise some good but not insurmountable points about AdNauseam, so I decided to make a pull request to it to test out and see how much it was being worked on. If it doesn’t get a reply from someone who works on that project within a week-ish, I’ll add that extension to the Hall of Shame.

Should their response be swift, however, I may in sharp contrast even add it as a software on FilterLists.com.

But why adding a legit fork even if it’s semi-abandoned?

What they do might be questionable, but this is not some shady clone, you can see who’s behind it.

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My thought process at the time, was that I was a bit under pressure from Krystian and Kowith, so I decided to put their maintainers to the test. Would they be quick responders, or would they let pull requests linger for months at a time?

I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were quick responders (although they have yet to outright merge the pull request), and thus the latter scenario in that comment of mine came into play: That AdNauseam is now listed on FilterLists.com as a software tool.

Back to main topic, the Stylish isn’t an adblocker, it’s just an extension to customise website by using user stylesheet, also have userstyles.org for a collections of stylesheet published by users (kindly same like adding user script)

But yeah, it’s a fall of that after acquisition and found out it’s phone home every URLs that you’ve visited, include all of forms and queries too!

My addition of Stylish has a bit of a backstory to it.

During May of 2018, about a month before I learned that :style was a thing that existed, I made a bunch of single-site widener styles for Stylish, so at the time I treated it on almost the same scale as I’d treat uBlock Origin.

Then I learned about :style. And since userstyles.org had various problems already by then (Most notably its PayPal links were all broken), I created a uBO list that combined my Stylish userscripts (and a few userscripts made by others), and I’ve never looked back since, especially not after Stylish ran into such big privacy problems that it was suddenly auto-removed from my Chrome one day last summer.

Additionally I am aware that RU AdList has a Stylish version of its CSS entries, for those who for some reason would prefer a ABP+Stylish+Tampermonkey combination over simply using uBO/AdGuard.

uBO also need Tampermonkey + userscript for few Rusian/Ukrain sites e.g. sinoptik.ua or update scriplet spinnet abort-on-property-read regularly.

@ameshkov Are you familar with a project called AdLock (without a B)? I simultaneously see indications that it’s legitimate and non-legitimate, so I was wondering if you could find a way to look through its code somehow.

What I can figure out about it, is that it has a pretty similar business model to AdGuard, it uses AdGuard’s own lists by default (but the desktop version tries to hide it by encrypting the downloaded lists and claiming they’re based on EasyList), and it seems to be somewhat maintained.

At the same time, its settings aren’t particularly in-depth (Especially so in the desktop version), the desktop version installs an SSH certificate by default, and its code doesn’t seem to have any documentation on it that I can easily find.

This is a pretty obvious clone of AdGuard, which I guess is good news for us – we must be doing something right if people clone our products :slight_smile:

What I can figure out about it, is that it has a pretty similar business model to AdGuard, it uses AdGuard’s own lists by default (but the desktop version tries to hide it by encrypting the downloaded lists and claiming they’re based on EasyList), and it seems to be somewhat maintained.

This is not the only part of AdGuard they’re using and trying to conceal. I can’t go into details at this point unless we decide what to do with them.

This is also similar: https://stopad.io/

But app is EOL.

Thanks for your interest in StopAd.

Unfortunately, this app is no longer available for sale or download.

Fortunately, our users with subscriptions will still be able to use the app as usual through the end of the subscription period.

We are grateful to you for your support.

Yeah, this is 100% clone indeed.

And here’s an interesting story on adblocker ultimate: https://www.ghacks.net/2019/07/25/mozilla-recommends-a-firefox-extensions-that-appears-to-be-a-copycat/

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Affected extension Reasoning for it being low-quality
Slimjet Has not been updated to support ABP 3.1 syntaxes.

https://www.slimbrowser.net/en/whatisnew.htm (10 / 11 use Gecko)

Have same AdBlocker code with lacked support newest syntax.

A system file it installs, called adblocker filter lists.txt, has the following content verbatim:

English Sites (required);https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylist.txt
Privacy Protection List;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easyprivacy.txt 
Arabic Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/Liste_AR.txt
Chinese Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylistchina.txt
Dutch Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylistdutch.txt
French Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/liste_fr.txt
German Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylistgermany.txt
Hungarian Sites;https://raw.githubusercontent.com/szpeter80/hufilter/master/hufilter.txt
Italian Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylistitaly.txt
Japanese Sites;http://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-japanese.txt
Korean Sites;http://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-korean.txt
Polish Sites;http://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-polish.txt
Portuguese & Spanish Sites;https://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-espanol.txt
Romanian Sites;http://www.zoso.ro/pages/rolist.txt
Russian Sites;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/advblock.txt
Spanish Sites;http://abp.mozilla-hispano.org/nauscopio/filtros.txt
Swedish Sites;http://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-swedish.txt
Turkish Sites;http://secure.fanboy.co.nz/fanboy-turkish.txt
Ad Blocker Warning Removal List;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/antiadblockfilters.txt
Social Networking Block List;https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/fanboy-social.txt
EU Cookie Law Notice Block List;https://raw.github.com/liamja/Prebake/master/obtrusive.txt

Effectively this seems like AdBlock anno 2016, and is not something I would give any major credit to FlashPeak for.